There could not have been a better start to the week last Monday when 10 domaines from the Cote Chalonnaise assembled at The Groucho Club in Soho, London’s bohemian heartland. The producers came to show mainly two vintages: 2009 and 2010.
With regards to the whites, the defining character is that 2009 is generous in fruit. Both the ripeness and weight of the fruit lend a larger body to the wines, for example try the wines of Dom. Stephane Aladame. Some producers managed to capture the grapes at the right time and the generosity of the fruit is not overabundant, leaving space for the minerality to shine through, such as with Ch. de Chamirey. Other wines fall in line with the weightier character as a result of their richly creamy texture, such as Dom. Ponsot’s 1er Cru Rully Montpalais. Dom. de la Framboisiere combined ripeness and concentration in their ’09 Rully blanc les Villeranges, a good thing, because their Mercurey reds were not excelling later on in the tasting.
Looking at the whites from 2010, one is reminded of the importance of acids, which were definitely higher in this vintage. As a result, the wines are somewhat leaner, though none were racy. Whites from both Dom. Ponsot and Dom Paul et Marie Jacqueson artfully combined ripeness of fruit with freshness of acids. Dom. Stephane Aladame’s 1er Cru Montagny, Decouverte, excelled with its concentration. Then there were the Aligote Dore whites of Dom. A. et P. de Villaine to remind us that not all great Burgundies must be made of chardonnay.
The 2009 reds had time to mature and develop in bottle, which benefited them greatly, whilst the 2010s were, in general, far too young to be enjoyed yet. Far too young, as 2010s are abundant in primary fruits, though they are also suspect to becoming fine and succulent wines based on their smooth texture. The mouth-feel of ‘09s was superb, with ripe tannins and fruits neatly integrated, as it was the case with Givry 1er Cru Clos de Cellier aux Moines. Acids were generally said to be low in this vintage, yet some producers masterfully retained a delicate balance, as was evidenced on the Dom. de la Ferte Givry 1er Cru Servoisine. In 2009 vintners tried to retain some whole bunches when vinifying the grapes, and this may have left a stalky note on the wines, I suspect, as a hint of green tinge showed on the otherwise delicious Ch. de Chamirey Mercurey 1er Cru Les Ruelles (Monopole) and also on the Nicolas Ragot Givry Vieilles Vignes . Nonetheless very palatable wines, probably with an unexpected combination of a warmer year with the hallmark of a cooler one?
The domaines and their wines are reviewed in progression from North to South: Bouzeron, Rully, Mercurey, Givrey and Montagny.
Domaine A. et P. de Villaine
The domain has some 21 hectares of vineyards divided between Bouzeron, Rully and Mercurey and is managed by Pierre de Benoist. Since 1996 it has been organic and a defining feature of the wines is the very low impact of oak, which is achieved by the use of foudres, that is large vats. This makes the wines shine with freshness, minerality and fruity purity. The Bouzeron whites are 100% Aligote Dore, which is less widespread than its green version and having tasted both ’10 and ’05, they are extremely delicious food wines. The second bottle of ’05 – the first one was a bit musty – was just superb and proves that Aligote should not be written off. It simply needs expert hands in both vineyard and cellar.
Dom. de Villain, Bouzeron 2010
Pronounced lemon, restrained nose with apples, lemon zest. Lively but not racy acids. Medium finish. 15.9
Dom. de Villain, Bouzeron 2005
Pronounced lemon with a straw hue. Mushrooms, straw and apples. Soft on the palate, yet fresh, develops into weighty, buttery on the end. 16.4
Dom. de Villain, Bourgogne Cote Chalonnaise blanc, Les Clous 2010
Pronounced lemon. Ripe apples, some lemon, a bit grapey, followed by acacia. Rounded mid-weight body. Medium finish. 16.3
Dom. de Villain, Rully Le Saint Jacques 2010
Ripe apples, spicy, mainly white pepper. Quite complex, showing some quince. Alcohol a bit high, but very good concentration, long. 16.2
Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot
The domaine was created in 1954 and is run by Jean-Baptiste, the third generation. 8.5 hectares, half of which is 1er Cru. Two thirds are white and one third is red. All within Rully. The wines were consistently creamy and buttery, spiced from oak, which must be down to 12 months of barrique ageing followed by foudres.
Dom. Ponsot Rully blanc 2010
Medium deep lemon. Ripe apples, vanilla and butter. Good heavy body, fresh acids, alcohol a bit too high. Medium finish. 15.4
Dom. Ponsot Rully 1er Cru blanc Molesme 2010
Light lemon. Lots of grapefruit, apples and spicy. 16
Dom. Ponsot Rully 1er Cru blanc Montpalais 2009
Honeyed nose. Acacia, ripe apples. Medium + acids, buttery and creamy texture. Soft, medium fresh and medium length. 16.2
Domaine Paul et Marie Jacqueson
This domaine a true story. Paul’s father started viticulture after the Second World War on some barren land that belonged to the family in Rully, a village of lesser reputation at the time. Now Dom. Jacqueson has 13 ha of vineyards, of which 65% produces whites. Testament to the family’s dedication is that Alex Hunt MW of Berkmann Wine Cellars holds their wines in high regard. Probably the finesse of the wines that captures one. The 2010 roughe had been bottled only 3 weeks prior to the tasting and it really showed, it was a bit all over the place.
Dom. Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru blanc La Pucelle 2010
Medium light lemon. Ripe apples, freshness, finesse of sawdust. Velvety texture. Long. 16.7
Dom. Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru blanc Gresigny 2009
Light lemon. Lemon, apples, with a silky mouthfeel, quite a bit of oak. Good concentration. 16.6
Dom. Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru rouge Les Cloux 2010
Very light ruby. Restrained, strawberry nose. Light body, quite fresh, as if a bit stalky greenishness. Mid-grain tannins. Ever so slightly astringent finish. 15.8
Dom. Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru rouge Les Cloux 2009
Light ruby. Light strawberries, lovely ripeness, fresh. Cedar, cloves and very fine grains of tannin. Fruity. Medium long finish. 16.7
Chateau de Chamirey
A family concern since the 1930s, the wines were shown by Bertrand Devillard, a quiet, but charming man. This Mercurey estate has some 95 acres of vineyards, of which one-third is Chardonnay. The only white wine shown at this tasting was from La Mission, a 5-acre1er Cru site exclusively owned by the Domaine. Hence designated as Monopole. The other three wines were all reds: one village and two 1er Crus from Les Ruelles, a 9-acre Pinot Noir Monopole of the Domaine. The wines were very palatable and the 2010 Les Ruelles was refined and softly textured, but I need to confess that I enjoyed the Givry reds of the Devillards far better. See my notes on those under Domaine de la Ferte. The Les Ruelles from the ’04 vintage showed quite firm tannins and the fruits were a bit weak. Nevertheless a flavoursome wine, with an array of flavours. Bertrand said that it was a difficult vintage, which required lots of selection and they also shortened the post-fermentation maceration so as to control tannin extraction. I suspect the wine was rounded off by somewhat more generous oak than the ’10.
Ch. de Chamirey, Mercurey white, 1er Cru, La Mission 2009 (Monopole)
Pronounced lemon, lovely lemon peel, apples and fine, well integrated oak. Rich in minerals, fruity and grapey. Long finish. 16.5
Ch. de Chamirey, Mercurey red 2009
Light strawberry. A bit stalky, ripe strawberry and raspberry with cloves. Medium grain tannins. Medium finish. 16.3
Ch. de Chamirey, Mercurey red 1er Cru, Les Ruelles 2010 (Monopole)
Deep purple with a ruby reflection. Lots of ripe raspberry and strawberry. Very refined and smooth texture. Medium fresh acids and finely grained tannins. Long. 16.5
Ch. de Chamirey, Mercurey red 1er Cru, Les Ruelles 2004 (Monopole)
Deep garnet with some ruby on the rim. Cedar, liver pate, strawberry and quite a bit of mid-grain tannins. Medium finish. 15.9
Domaine de la Framboisiere (Faiveley)
A well-established family in Burgundy, the Faiveleys have vineyards in Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaunne and Cote Chalonnaise. In the latter district they hold 68 hectares of vineyards in Mercurey, Givry, Rully and Montagny. At the tasting they featured reds from Mercurey and a white from Rully. The reds did not offer too much excitement as opposed to the white, which showed an attractive complexity and good concentration.
Dom. de le Framboisiere Rully blanc Les Villeranges 2009
Light lemon. Mineral, apples, lemon zest and mint. Quite crisp. Very good concentration. 16.8
Dom. de la Framboisiere Mercurey rouge La Framboisire 2009
Deep purple. Raspberry, cloves, mid-grain tannins. Fresh, as if a bit stalky on the back-palate. 16.2
Dom. de la Framboisiere Mercurey rouge 1er Cru Clos des Myglands 2009
Lighter purple. Strawberry, raspberry, cedar and pine. Small grained tannins, savoury. Marked alcohol, less concentrated. 16
Dom. de la Framboisiere Mercurey rouge 1er Cru Clos du Roy 2009
Medium pronounced ruby, a hint of garnet. Strawberry, leafs, mid-grain tannins. Fresh. Fruity finish, medium. 15.7
Domaine Francois Raquillet
A family proud of its 14th century ancestry in the village of Mercurey. Currently they hold 10 hectares of vineyards and produce 20% whites and the rest is red. The wines are well made, but nothing close to exciting.
Dom. Raquillet Mercurey blanc vieilles vignes 2010
Light lemon, watery rim. Lemon, linden, mineral and medium concentration as well as finish. 15.7
Dom. Raquillet Mercurey blanc 1er Cru Gresigny 2010
Fresh, apple, lemon zest, white pepper. Light and short. 15.5
Dom. Raquillet Mercurey rouge vieilles vignes 2010
Light ruby. Raspberry, very light, a bit lean, fresh and light juicy wine. 15.8
Dom. Raquillet Mercurey rouge 1er Cru Les Vasees 2010
Light ruby. Raspberry, a bit of large grained tannins, fresh and steely. Medium finish. 15.3
Domaine de la Ferte
Another property of the Devillards, a tiny one of 7 acres in the village of Givry. 2.25 acres are in the 1er Cru of Servoisine. I found the ’09 1er Cru Servoisine utterly delicious, with succulent fruits and a layered complexity. One wonders whether showing the 2010 vintage really makes a service to the wine or is it just a bit too young to step on the stage?
Domaine de la Ferte, Givry red 2009
Deep ruby. Raspberry, leather, cedar. Concentrated, schistous texture, medium finish. 16.8
Domaine de la Ferte, Givry, 2005
Strawberry, cedar, cinnamon and cloves. Medium grained tannins, quite fresh acids. Lighter in body than ’09. Medium finish. 16.3
Domaine de la Ferte, Givry 1er Cru Servoisine 2010
Raspberry. Flinty, smoothly textured, soft tannins, quite dominant primary fruit yet. 16.4
Domaine de la Ferte, Givry 1er Cru Servoisine 2009
Rasberrry. Very fine texture, soft tannins, high acids, but very well balanced. Raspberry and strawberry melange, cedar, with a touch of very refined pine. Super long. 18.4
Domaine du Cellier aux Moines
This more than 700-year old domaine was purchased by Philippe and Catherine Pascal in 2004. Catherine’s family is from Beaune, so she is in charge of managing the vineyards; 12 acres of Pinot Noir in Clos du Celliar aux Moines, a 1er Cru Givry, 1.5 acres in Mercurey, Les Margotons; and 1 acre of Bouzeron, where Aligote Dore is produced. Philippe has been busy as a senior board member of LVMH anyway. The wines are sold through a co-operation with the Devillards, thus it was Aurore Devillard, Bertrand’s charming daughter, who was pouring the wine. As for the wines tasted, I felt, again, that showing 2010 red Burgundies is far too early. They need more time. Having said that, the 2009 was superb, firm with an underlying finesse.
Clos du Cellier aux Moines, Givry 1er Cru 2009
Medium deep ruby. Raspberry, strawberry and leather, mixed with cedar and nutmeg. The spices sit on ripe, mid-grain tannins. Excellent integration, long. 18.5
Clos du Cellier aux Moines, Givry 1er Cru 2010
Medium deep ruby. Lovely fruits of strawberry and raspberry. Very rounded, fresh, but supported by excellent mid-grain tannins. Medium finish, young yet. 16.3
Clos du Cellier aux Moines, Givry 1er Cru 2007
Medium deep ruby. Raspberry, strawberry with a touch of freshness, fruits less ripe. Leathery, mid-grain tannins, medium-plus length. 16.5
The domaine is named after the family who has owned it since 1760. It was Nicolas Ragot, the fourth generation to be based in Givry, who presented the wines. He also brought to bottles of soils samples to the tasting to feature the different terroirs (see the photo). A total of 9 hectares they cultivate, which includes three 1er Cru holdings. The wines had a lovely schistous and flinty character, and the fruits were let shine through as a result of using only 25% new oak.
Dom. Ragot Givry Blanc, Champ Pourot 2010
Pronounced lemon with a straw hue. Lovely apples, vanilla, tiny citrus and a bit of grapefruit. A hint of lees. Rounded, excellent intensity and a good medium concentration. Long, spicy finish. 16.5
Dom. Ragot Givry Rouge, 2009
Medium deep ruby. Flinty, raspberry, a fresh palate with mid-grain tannins. Schistous mouthfeel. Medium weight and finish too. 16.2
Dom. Ragot Givry Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2009
Deep ruby. Raspberry, stalky, mid-grain tannins, as if a bit musty. 15.7
Dom. Ragot Givry Rouge 1er Cru La Grande Berge 2009
Pronounced raspberry. Lively raspberry, strawberry with lovely sawdust type of oak, fresh, and very finely textured tannins. Long and refined. 16.6
Dom. Ragot Givry Rouge 1er Cru Clos Jus 2006
Ruby. Cedar, cloves, velvety mid-grain tannins. Ripe fruits, savoury, mushrooms and leather. Long. 16.9
Domaine Stephane Aladame
The domaine is based in the village of Montagny-les-Buxy. The wines showed at the tasting were solely 1er cru Montagny, which reflects the distribution of the vineyard holdings of the domaine. Stephane has 7 ha of 1er cru sites and 1 ha of Bourgogne Aligote. Of the four wines tasted, there was no vintage to single out despite the fact that 2009 showed riper fruits, whilst 2010 resulted in leaner style. Interestingly, my preference from the 1er crus was for 2010, which did not have the weighty fruit of ’09, but showed excellent concentration. From the ‘09s the Vieilles Vignes showed more restraint, which allowed the delicate balance of acids and minerals shine through, making it an attractive wine.
Dom. Aladame, Montagny 1er Cru, Decouverte, 2009
Very light lemon. A bit of bruised apples, followed by generous citrus and quite a bit of lemon zest. Medium alcohol and similar finish. 15.6
Dom. Aladame, Montagny 1er Cru, Decouverte 2010
Light lemon. Tiny bit of bruised apples, grapey and zesty nose. Lovely rounded acids and medium weight of fruits. Spicy. Excellent concentration, long finish. 16.6
Dom. Aladame, Montagny 1er Cru, Selection Vieilles Vignes, 2009
More restrained nose than the Decouverte ’10, though riper fruits in the nose. A bit grapey. Very fresh, zesty with a good medium weight of body, and a lovely minerality. Acids nicely balanced. 16.3
Dom Aladame, Montagny 1er Cru, Vignes Derriere, 2010
Restrained nose, steely and mineral palate with weaker fruits, yet lovely rounded body, as if a bit short on the finish. 16.1